Fire causes $120K in damages to Richmond elementary school playground

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Richmond fire officials say the massive fire that destroyed a Richmond school's playground is suspicious. This is not the first time Fairfield Court Elementary School's playground caught fire. In fact - several Richmond schools have had similar incidents recently and it's costing taxpayers big bucks.

Fire crews say they are estimating the damage at Fairfield Court Elementary Friday to total some $120,000. Since Richmond schools are self-insured, this is a huge hit.  

Just weeks away from the start of the school year at Fairfield Court Elementary, and now this.

"Everybody saw the results of the flames real quick," said Clifton Osborne who lives in the area.

The NBC 12 Skycam on the Southside captured the dark smoke around 4:30 Friday afternoon. It was visible all the way from East Richmond.

"It was just a lot of black smoke because all of the petroleum based plastic was burning here," said Capt. Pat Schoeffel of Richmond Fire.

It was under control in minutes. Now investigators believe someone intentionally set the playground on fire.

"Somebody see the damage that's done. Somebody could've got hurt there," Osborne added.

Within the past couple of years, there were two similar fires down the road at Woodville Elementary. In one of them, investigators arrested a 9-year-old for arson. Within the past couple of months, another child was arrested for setting Overby-Sheppard school's playground on fire, causing $150,000 in damage.

"We used to do puns and stuff like that but this is costly," Osborne said.

This isn't the first problem for students here at Fairfield Court Elementary. Not only is part of their playground destroyed, just recently, the roof there collapsed. At a time when the district is trying to come up with nearly 30 million dollars for needed school repairs, this fire isn't helping a bit.

"I know the pocketbooks got hurt because the taxpayers got to come out with it," Osborne said.

Investigators say there were many kids at the playground around the time of this fire but when crews showed up everyone scattered. They believe someone knows something. If you know anything, call police.

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